Uses and abuses of fractal methodology in ecology

JM Halley*, S Hartley, AS Kallimanis, WE Kunin, JJ Lennon, SP Sgardelis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

211 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fractals have found widespread application in a range of scientific fields, including ecology. This rapid growth has produced substantial new insights, but has also spawned confusion and a host of methodological problems. In this paper, we review the value of fractal methods, in particular for applications to spatial ecology, and outline potential pitfalls. Methods for measuring fractals in nature and generating fractal patterns for use in modelling are surveyed. We stress the limitations and the strengths of fractal models. Strictly speaking, no ecological pattern can be truly fractal, but fractal methods may nonetheless provide the most efficient tool available for describing and predicting ecological patterns at multiple scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-271
Number of pages18
JournalEcology Letters
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004

Keywords

  • scale
  • scaling
  • spatial pattern
  • multifractals
  • species distribution
  • SPECIES ABUNDANCE
  • EXTINCTION THRESHOLDS
  • MULTIFRACTAL ANALYSIS
  • ANIMAL POPULATIONS
  • SELF-SIMILARITY
  • SPATIAL SCALES
  • DISTRIBUTIONS
  • LANDSCAPES
  • PATTERNS
  • DIMENSIONS

Cite this

Halley, JM., Hartley, S., Kallimanis, AS., Kunin, WE., Lennon, JJ., & Sgardelis, SP. (2004). Uses and abuses of fractal methodology in ecology. Ecology Letters, 7(3), 254-271. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2004.00568.x